May cook-a-long: Wrap-up

This month, first of all, I owe you an apology. Last week was one of the busiest weeks I have had in a long time, which meant I wasn’t around much on cook-a-long day. I am so sorry. As it turned out, you didn’t seem to need me much. You all did such a great job!

After nearly five years of staying at home with my kids, I have recently returned to work three days a week. I am absolutely loving it, but it means I am out of the house at 5:30am each morning, and only get home in time to pick the kids up at three o’clock. Then I was out three nights, which is completely unlike me. I am such a homebody, especially at night. Needless to say, by Saturday I was a zombie…

Being so busy this week has meant that I have hardly had  a moment spare to keep in touch with the Facebook page. This has been so disappointing, especially as it has been my favourite time of the month – cook-a-long! There is always such a buzz around when people are busy creating their meals. I just love it!

Because of that crazy little presentation I had to make on Wednesday night at Pecha Kucha Night, I ended up making my cook-a-long recipe on Tuesday and eating it Tuesday night. Mr Picky Palette was out for work, so it was just me and B2 and B4 for dinner.

I think I had my meal prepared and ready in the slow cooker by about ten o’clock as I had to duck out and do a few errands in the morning.  By the time I got home, the smell coming from my house was AMAZING! I hope my neighbours were jealous!

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Once the meat was all soft and tender, I removed it from the sauce. In the interests of increasing my chances of getting the kiddies to eat their dinner, I then pulsed the sauce in my blender to break up any big pieces of vegetables. Once I had removed all the meat from the bone, I mixed it with the now blended sauce. At this point, I stood at the stove with that 100 grams of unsalted butter and hesitated. I just could not bring myself to add all that butter to the sauce. It seemed like a lot! In the end I added about half. And yes. It made the sauce shiny and rich, but I think the full 100 grams was excessive.

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I’m not going to bore you with my usual “make your own pasta” rant! But what I will say is that, making your own pasta is so easy that my friend Carolyn and her five year old managed to whip up a batch with their bare hands and a rolling pin. In her words, she “tasted the love”. So very awesome!

I love that the cook-a-long has become more than just one day. I love that you all feel comfortable enough to just go with the flow, give it a go, and cook it when you have the time. I love that you feel comfortable enough to adjust the recipe to suit the tastes and dietary needs of your family and friends. I’m so happy to be amongst such an enthusiastic, encouraging and supportive bunch of people!

Thank you once again to those who had the courage to share your dinner with us on the Facebook page. What a great effort! In honour of braving the social media critics, I wanted to share a summary of some of the pictures and feedback shared.

Delicious! Absolutely loved the flavours… Will have to make again as our leftover’s won’t last long! By the way, I unintentionally cooked this with diced lamb (was frozen so didn’t notice) and the flavour was great! – Melissa E

Yum, yum!!! I didn’t do the sauce but added peas. – Denica

Well after preparing everything yesterday so I could just pour it into my slow cooker this morning before work, my pregnancy brain forgot to turn the slow cooker on!!!! So after some damage control and dinner a little later than normal, here is my dish and it is yummo!!! I was a little worried about the butter but it really made the sauce very smooth!! Will do again for sure but will remember to turn the slow cooker on next time ;)) – Leah

Here is my version – the whole family loved it! – Kara

So here is my efforts – with pasta I made myself, with a rolling pin & a 5yr old… Tasted the love.
Only thing I would do different is use meat on a bone, diced beef was a bit meh… Definitely will do again, thanks for the inspiration Brigitte xx – Carolyn

Here’s mine attempt (a bit slap-dash!). Was pretty happy with it the end. All bowls looked clean in our house! So I guess that’s a pretty good sign. – Jacinta

No alterations here, and it was Yum!! Oops, I lied. I did omit the butter. – Melissa O

Added pumpkin, broccoli and lentils- no pasta….so kinda a casserole in the end with a dollop of natural yoghurt. Eating as I type! – Sherry

Yum! Used lactose free cheddar for the sauce not quiet the effect it was after but was still yum!!! – Rebecca

I also wanted to take a moment and thank you all for sharing the event with your friends and getting them involved. I was thrilled to see so many new names amongst the group this month.

Now that May’s cook-a-long is over, it is time to start thinking about next month. The date for the June cook-a-long will be Wednesday 12 June. Lock it in your diaries.

Next month I have a little surprise for those who participate. So make sure you sign-up to the June event on the the My Delicious Year Facebook page.

Don’t forget that the cook-a-long will always remain affordable, achievable and delicious!

Until next time,

X Bree

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Sufferin’ succotash, we’re eating succotash!

When I saw the recipe for Bacon-wrapped chicken with succotash I immediately thought of watching Looney Tunes as a child and Sylvester spluttering all over the place “Sufferin’ Succotash”.

Succotash is no meal to suffer over though.

It’s a frugal combination of beans, corn and bacon brought together with a dash of cream.

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For a quick, tasty, mid-week dinner you can’t go past this recipe. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably find most of the ingredients already in your pantry or fridge.

Enjoy!

X Bree

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Filed under April, easy, family friendly

Good riddance April!

Oh me, oh my. Thank goodness April is over. What a month.

I have to confess. I really struggled to stay motivated this month. REALLY struggled. Fussy kids and unappreciative husbands nearly made me want to quit. It made me think “why? why? why?”

The other thing that I was overwhelmed by was my need to cook every single cover recipe. What was I thinking when I set that as a ground rule? This month I was good – I didn’t leave them all to the last two days. But I was totally overwhelmed by all the chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE chocolate as much as the next person. But out of the twelve April cover recipes to cook, nine were sweets and eight of those included chocolate (the other one was caramel). Blah!

Here’s a little secret. I’ve taken to halving the dessert recipes. Why? Because the cover recipes are often so decadent (cream, chocolate, sugar etc) and I am very conscious of only consuming these types of things in small quantities. Otherwise my hips and my health can’t handle it! They also often have a very short shelf life and as a family, we just can’t get through them quick enough, even after sharing the leftovers with our extended family.

And here’s a confession. I actually didn’t cook all twelve covers this month! I know. I know. What a disappointment. But I really couldn’t bring myself to do it. (I only skipped one) Please forgive me? It won’t happen again…

Here's the cover I skipped this month...

Here’s the cover I skipped this month…

On to the fussy kid saga…

Pretty much every night B4 asks me “what’s for dinner?” His usual response is either tears, or hysteria, or running screaming from the room, or a combination of the three. It turns out he’s more of a meat and no veg kind of guy. Like that is ok… Yes, there are nights that he goes to bed hungry.

After more than my fair share of these shenanigans this month, I took him aside one night and asked him what he really wanted to have for dinner. Turns out it was lasagna. A simple request, and one that I will fulfil sometime in May. Until then, he has to keep trying the new stuff I am making.

On another occasion, after a week of very poor dinner eating on B4’s behalf, I was driving to my parent’s house where B2 and B4 were to have dinner and a sleepover. Around the corner from my parents house B4 piped up with “I wonder if grandma is going to make me something yummy for dinner?” I replied with something like “well of course honey. Grandma always cooks yummy dinner.” B4 then replied “yes and I will love it and eat it all up!” (Because I never cook anything you love. And breathe…)

Sure enough, grandma produced the trifecta – roasted chicken, roasted lamb and roasted potatoes. The boys proceeded to inhale their dinner like they hadn’t eaten for a week. (sigh)

So, in honour of the sh#ttiest month ever, I present you with my high’s and low’s – what I loved to eat, what I didn’t and what I’d make again:

The High’s

  1. The cook-a-long. How freaking awesome was it? I was completely overwhelmed by how much people really got into it. I can’t wait for May. Thank you so much, everyone!
  2. Meat-free Monday – I have really enjoyed going meat-free on a Monday and have found that it is a pleasure to create delicious, flavoursome, meat-free meals. My children may disagree!
  3. Huevos Rancheros (Apr 2008, p. 86) – definitely recipe of the month. Simple. Tasty. Delicious. A great Saturday morning brekky. Give it a go.

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The Low’s

  1. Chocolate fondants – COVER (Apr 2008, p. 74) or as someone so politely commented on Facebook “steaming poo”. Thanks Paul. LOL. Something went terribly wrong. Not sure I care enough to try to correct it and make them again.
  2. Pear & ginger crisp (Apr 2002, p. 114). Another dessert disaster. Curdled, eggy, grossness.  May we never speak of it again.
  3. Pearl barley risotto with roast pumpkin, capsicum & rocket (Apr 2009, p. 126). There was a huge uproar in the house when I served this up for meat-free Monday. I think the concept is good, but the execution was not so good.

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More please…

  1. Mascarpone, prosciutto & rocket pizza – COVER (Apr 2007, p. 12). Homemade pizza. Yum!
  2. Roast pork steaks with tomatoes and pine nuts (Apr 2005, p. 139). A few simple ingredients packed with flavour. It was a winner.
  3. Mushroom carbonara (Apr 2012, p. 84). Another recipe with a few simple ingredients that translated to a delicious, easy, weeknight dinner.

Did I mention that neither B2 nor B4 ever complain when offered dessert, or pizza?

Here’s a link to the full list of what I cooked in April.

And to end the month of April, here is the most memorable piece of feedback I got from Mr Picky Palette during April, which pretty much sums up the month:

Me: How was your dinner honey?
Mr Picky Palette: I ate it didn’t I?

The end.

X Bree

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May cook-a-long: Recipe reveal

Hello friends,

This month we are stepping back a gear and putting on our slow shoes.

Autumn is here. The nights are getting cooler, the sun is setting sooner, and our tummies are looking for something warm and comforting to fill the void.

This month I have chosen a Jamie Oliver recipe for Pappardelle with amazing slow-cooked meat. It’s clearly a winner. In fact, one of the downsides to immersing yourself in ten years of delicious. Magazine’s is that you come across certain recipes that have popped up on more than one occasion. This is one of those. It was first printed in the May 2004 magazine and again reproduced (word for word!) in the May 2006 magazine. Worth cooking don’t you think?

I have included a whole bunch of “tips” in the recipe and shopping list this month including instructions for preparing this recipe with your slow cooker.

All the details for the May cook-a-long can be found here.

Don’t forget to mark Wednesday 8 May in your calendar.

Once you are finished cooking, take a moment and capture a photo of your meal. Post your picture and comments on the My Delicious Year Facebook page or share it on instagram using the hashtag #cookalong and tag @mydeliciousyear.

I had so much fun with the April cook-a-long and was thrilled by how many people joined in. May is going to be even better. I can’t wait to see what sort of creations you all come up with.

Get cooking!

X Bree

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Filed under Cook-a-long, easy, May, Pasta

When life gives you lemons…

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – Dale Carnegie

It’s a simple message, and such an optimistic one. But when faced with a HUGE surplus of big, fat, juicy lemons from the tree in my backyard, it’s a message I take quite literally. It’s something I have never done before, but I decide to make lemonade. Hooray!

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The lemon tree in our yard is not the prettiest tree. It has met with a variety of creepy crawlys and other citrus pests over time. But it is organic. And it seems to have thrived from all the rain we had over summer. In fact, we have been picking some of the biggest, juiciest lemons I have ever seen. The skins imperfections have not affected the juicy goodness inside. But it does mean the lemons are no good for zesting.

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So back to lemonade…

The day I decided I was going to make lemonade I was back flicking through all the April delicious. magazines as I had found myself a bit short on recipes this month. Sure enough, I came across a recipe for lemonade – not that a recipe is really needed. It’s as simple as adding sugar to lemon juice to suit your tastes and heating to dissolve the sugar. Not exactly rocket science. But in my attempt to make a healthier version I replaced the caster sugar with organic rapadura sugar and reduced the amount of sugar by about half. The end result was a brownish coloured syrup that was sour, sour, sour. Borderline undrinkable. Oops…  So I just added more sugar. Second attempt, result? A brownish coloured syrup that was a nice balance of sweet and sour.

Now where’s the vodka and soda?

X Bree

P.S You can read more about rapadura sugar here if you are interested. (It’s not a plug to buy this woman’s product, just a great Australian reference)

P.P.S If you want some lemons, just drop me an email… 🙂

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April cook-a-long: Wrap-up

Wow! What a week. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for participating in our very first My delicious year cook-a-long! I am overwhelmed and humbled by the enthusiasm and support you have all shown towards this initiative.

Thank you to those who had the courage to share your dinner with us on the Facebook page. What a great effort! In honour of braving the social media critics, I wanted to share a summary of some of the pictures and feedback shared.

“Yum!! It was a huge hit in our house…” – Denica

“Needed a bit more soy sauce……but yummy!!!!!  Oh and we used a coconut curry paste……more for our taste!!!!” – Melissa D

“I used red curry paste instead of korma (less sat. fat). Advice is to have everything out ready to go, as it doesn’t take long to cook. Yummy!” – Sherry

“Yummy, quick and easy… Thanks for organising tonight’s cook-a-long Brig. So nice not to think about what to cook!! What’s for dinner next month?? Everyone check out my delicious year for inspiration!” – Lisa

“Just had ours, really yummy, even my 14yr old had seconds!!…already started eating before I realised I should of taken a photo. Looking forward to next week Wednesday….thanks Brigitte. This is a really great idea!!!” – Meegan

“Really enjoyed this dish. Very tasty. Added capsicum for colour. Kids enjoyed this dinner …” – Daniel & Jodie

“Thanks for the inspiration Bree…that was yum!!! The only thing I changed was not adding coriander…I’m not a fan.” – Melissa O

“Here’s my version. Have never cooked green prawns before and was pleased it was a success. Was extremely tasty but would tweak it next time to halve the noodles and stock and add more prawns. Looking forward to May’s cook-a-Long.” – Alina

My goal for the cook-a-long was to:

  • give you the night off from planning what was for dinner by providing you with a recipe and a shopping list
  • inspire you to try something you many not have cooked before
  • provide you with a recipe that was flexible, one that could easily be modified to suit all tastes
  • provide a platform to share your experience .

Reading through the feedback I am so thrilled to see people cooking with ingredients that they haven’t used before, modifying the recipe to suit the tastes of your family (lots of different types of curry pastes used) and lots of children who happily ate their dinner. What a winner!

Now April’s cook-a-long is over, it is time to start thinking about next month. The date for the May cook-a-long will be Wednesday 8 May. Lock it in your diaries. I would love to hear from. What you would like to cook? Or maybe what wouldn’t you like to cook? Perhaps you’d like to suggest a “core ingredient” a la Masterchef-style?

Ultimately though, the cook-a-long will always remain affordable, achievable and delicious!

Tell your friends!

X Bree

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Filed under April, Cook-a-long

Roast pork steaks with tomatoes and pine nuts

Roast pork steaks with tomatoes and pine nuts

Love a quick weeknight dinner. This one is a winner. Only five ingredients: lean pork steaks, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a handful of pinenuts and a handful of basil. So much flavour from just a few ingredients. So easy to adapt for one person or ten. Serve it with your chosen carb. Here’s a link to the recipe.

2 Comments

04/04/2013 · 9:37 am